3 out of 4 stars
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Strong Heart by Charlie Sheldon is a book from the fiction genre. One may argue that it could additionally be classified as historical fiction based on the strong historical references made throughout the book.
Tom is preparing to hike into the Olympic National Park, in Washington State, along with his friends, William and Myra, when they are faced with a surprising arrival. The group hears several unexpected sounds of pounding on the front door. In response, William opens the door to be met by Tom’s ex-wife, Ruth, and a young girl. Ruth explains that Sarah, the young girl, is Tom’s granddaughter and that she has been staying with her for a few days. Ruth has only just become aware of her existence, as has Tom. Ruth further explains that Sarah has overstayed her welcome and that Tom is now responsible for her care, then she abruptly leaves. Tom is left befuddled, wondering if the group should proceed with their planned hike, or if they should cancel their plans. It doesn’t take Tom, William, and Myra long to realize that Sarah is a troubled adolescent, further complicating their situation. Ultimately the group decides to proceed with their planned hike, taking Sarah along with them. Out of necessity, Sarah reluctantly agrees.
Along the way, Myra begins to share stories of Native American beliefs and legends from the area. These stories, along with a sketchbook, are Sarah’s only reprieve. The group takes notice of one of Sarah’s sketches in particular, and soon, a thrilling adventure unfolds. What events are in store for this group of hikers? Will Sarah overcome her troubles? What role will Native American beliefs play in their travels?
The author’s attention to detail provides a breathtaking backdrop to the storyline. I was drawn into the Native American beliefs and legends shared, gaining a fondness for the spirituality involved. The coming-of-age aspect of the book was relatable, and the manner in which the author intertwined this aspect with the storyline was brilliant. The author included adolescent coming-of-age as well as the coming-of-age realizations made by the adult characters, which I found thought-provoking.
While I appreciate the author’s attention to detail, I was overwhelmed by the amount of detail delivered at times, specifically when introducing characters. During these instances the storyline was compelling; however, I struggled to remember character names and attributes due to the large number introduced in a short period of time. I believe the author’s intention was to provide detail, but for me, the detail was lost in translation.
Readers who enjoy historical fiction, coming-of-age stories, or are interested in Native American spirituality, would appreciate reading Strong Heart. In addition, those curious about the nature of spirit animal relationships would be intrigued by this book.
It should be noted that this book contains references to sexual abuse, graphic descriptions of death or dying, and several instances of profanity. For these reasons, I would recommend that this book be reserved for mature or adult readers.
This book did not appear to be professionally edited, as several grammatical errors were noted. Unfortunately, these errors negatively impacted my ability to remain engaged in the storyline. The majority of these errors appear in the first portion of the book and were less of a distraction as the book continued.
Considering that this book requires additional editing and the critical aspects of this review, I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars.
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